It had been three years. It had been 9 video games. The Knicks could possibly be feeling good about themselves, they might win just a few video games in a row, they might sense that possibly they had been placing just a few issues collectively … 

After which the schedule, these previous few years, would throw the Nets at them. 

And fairly rapidly, there can be a humbling. The Nets had all these stars, certain, however they didn’t at all times play. Didn’t appear to matter. The Nets had been Up Right here. The Knicks had been Down There. Greg Brady switching locations with Bobby for 3 straight years and 9 straight video games. Keith Partridge switching with Danny. 

Massive brother to little brother. 

And so if it felt like this 124-106 Knicks win earlier than a sold-out Madison Sq. Backyard contained a bit one thing additional … nicely, it did. For 3 years the Knicks have been shoved apart inside the borders of their very own metropolis. No, the Nets by no means fairly took over the city as Mikhail Prokhorov and Jay-Z defiantly declared again within the day. There have been at all times loads of Knicks followers spoiling the day when these groups met in Barclays Middle however after awhile that was a cute apart … type of just like the small however vocal band of Nets followers among the many 19,812 who saved chanting “Brooklyn” Monday evening till the lead lastly reached 20. 

For now, these groups are digital mirrors of one another, their rosters stuffed with ultra-likeable employee bees just like the Nets’ Spencer Dinwiddie, who at all times did get pleasure from tweaking the Knicks his first time by way of city and on Monday had 28 factors. 

Josh Hart celebrates through the Knicks’ win over the Nets on Feb. 13.
Robert Sabo for NY Submit

However on this evening, the Backyard belonged to the Knicks. 

Extra particularly, to Knickanova. 

“Knicks followers,” Jalen Brunson mentioned, “are going to like him.” 

Brunson was referring to Josh Hart, in fact, Brunson’s previous working mate at Villanova, and when Brunson declares somebody will grow to be a fan favourite it’s a topic he is aware of nicely: the Backyard has already made a behavior of chanting “M! V! P!” at each alternative on Brunson’s behalf. 

And after Tuesday, when Brunson scored 40 factors and Hart 27 in lastly bringing an finish to the Nets’ inter-borough dominance, Knicks followers are ready to file the required papers to undertake each erstwhile Villanova Wildcats. 

“It’s fairly straightforward to see the chemistry they’ve,” mentioned Tom Thibodeau, who certain has smiled these final two video games much more than typical, as a result of each Hart and Brunson appear to be they might have been custom-produced within the Tom Thibodeau Basketball Participant Manufacturing unit. 

The world noticed Brunson’s response when the Knicks acquired Hart final week, a visceral burst of pleasure that went immediately viral. However 3,000 miles away, Hart reacted the very same approach. Inside minutes of getting the information he was FaceTiming Brunson from the Portland locker room, the 2 faculty buddies who as soon as upon a time teamed as much as win an NCAA Event reunited within the Affiliation. 

“All the things about it was nice,” Hart mentioned. “On the court docket, off the court docket. New York. Madison Sq. Backyard …” 

Josh Hart, right, and Jalen Brunson embrace during the Knicks' win over the Nets on Feb. 13.
Josh Hart, proper, and Jalen Brunson embrace through the Knicks’ win over the Nets on Feb. 13.
Robert Sabo for NY Submit

His smile crammed out the remainder of the sentence. 

“He’s a winner, he’s selfless, he’s a personality man who will help change tradition,” Brunson mentioned of Hart. “He’s a really particular participant and at all times has been.” 

Mentioned Hart of Brunson: “Seeing him play in faculty was wonderful and I knew he’d have a protracted profession however I didn’t suppose he would get to the purpose the place he’s taking part in now, the place he ought to be an All-Star and is taking part in at an All-Star degree. Nevertheless it’s wonderful to see as a result of I do know the work he places in.” 

It’s two video games, so irrespective of how profound the nice emotions are they should be saved in perspective. However the looming All-Star break truly feels prefer it’s coming at an inconvenient time for the Knicks. They’ve created a buzz. They’re 5 video games north of .500. They nonetheless sit in seventh however are only a half-game behind the Warmth for sixth place within the East, two behind the Nets for fifth. 

Jalen Brunson scores two of his game-high 40 points during the Knicks' win over the Nets on Feb. 13.
Jalen Brunson scores two of his game-high 40 factors through the Knicks’ win over the Nets on Feb. 13.
Robert Sabo for NY Submit

And never by the way: 

It’s their metropolis once more, at the least in the meanwhile. And the feels are in every single place because of a few previous faculty buddies who certain know a factor or two about successful. 

“While you undergo large moments and have the stress of successful a nationwide championship collectively that ties you collectively perpetually,” Thibodeau mentioned. “All the things these guys do is for the staff.” 

A lot of guys rating factors and don’t influence successful the best way these guys influence successful. Hustle performs. Sprinting again on protection and stealing the ball. Numerous soiled work. 

And a whole lot of stunning ball. Villanova followers already know that. Knickanova followers are rapidly beginning to get the concept, too.